If there is anyone who, after driving to a mall or shopping center during regular business hours in the days leading up to Christmas, still believes that private transportation is the only sane option, she can stop reading this post now, as she is out of the realm of reason. Other readers, who understand that what is “most convenient” is not truly always most convenient, keep reading.
In discussions about a possible light-rail system, some haters have had to step up with excuses for why Connecticut should not provide sustainable transportation options.
from a messageboard on City-Data.com:
Cost, low ridership due to low population density. [...] Plus the conservative people of Connecticut would fight it to the death on aesthics [sic] alone.
Cost: As ambivalent toward capitalism as I am, I do understand the saying, “you need to spend money to make money.” The Hartford Business Journal notes that “investing in the New Haven to Springfield commuter rail would create 775 new jobs and increase economic activity within the region by $152 million. Investing in commuter rail will not only stimulate the state’s economy, it will serve as a driving force in revitalizing our urban areas as well.” While a commuter rail is in a different category than the light rail, I am not certain that the differences are so vast as to change the possibility of increased economic activity, as they call it. Besides helping those without private transportation broaden their employment opportunities, there would be less money needed to continuously repair roadways, with reduced usage.
Low population density? I wish.
Connecticut is the fourth most densely populated state, with New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts leading. New York is only a few places behind, but New York City, the most populated and most densely populated city in the United States, is right over the Connecticut border. NYC is also, no surprise, a leader in public transportation, with more than half of its population using public transit to get to work.
Light rail systems cost millions of dollars to establish, millions of dollars to expand, and millions of dollars to maintain. They also provide relatively slow service on a fixed route.
Which is different from interstates in what way? The main difference, that I can see, is that more people can make use of a public transit system who would not have access to the interstates, which their taxes would also be supporting. Here is my argument: why should someone who can not drive (physical disability, anxiety, age, or other issue) or who can not afford a vehicle, or who chooses not to, have to fund a series of roadways which he is not using?
from Slog, a blog of the Seattle newspaper, The Stranger:
So, what you’re gleefully saying is that light rail soon becomes a taxi for the wealthy (which is what it is in New York, ferrying Wall Street types from Connecticut to the Battery).
At the same time, Metro cuts bus service which covers a wider area with service from more begin and end points. They make the buses feeder routes to the train — which is more expensive to ride and to run — forcing people to pay more.
And about those high capacity bus routes — remember, the fare pays for less than 25 percent of the cost of the trip. In fact, it could be as low as 6 percent in some instances.
That leaves the other people who don’t ride the bus to pay top dollar for trips that could be made cheaper by car if the bus wasn’t subsidized!
Light rail is anything but — it is an oppressive burden on the common citizen who cannot or will not be riding the rails 1 out of 100 times. What he will be doing is paying an extra tax for limousine commuters to have personal trolley from their overpriced [sic] condoes.
I can appreciate the raw disdain for the rich, but I’m not convinced that the rich are exclusively using Metro North (which is what the author is referring to, I think, and is not considered light rail). There are companies and colleges which will pay for some or all of transportation expenses. Admittedly, the train fare that he refers to is costly, but it hardly offers the luxury that he falsely and facetiously alludes to.
So half the perpetual naysayers are wildly speculating that light rail will be a rolling homeless shelter, and the other half of the perpetual naysayers are wildly speculating it will be a high-priced shuttle for the rich. Can you people at least get your stories straight? You’re contradicting yourselves.
In any case, the Associated Press reports that “The nation’s public transportation systems saw the largest quarterly ridership increase in 25 years as more Americans shunned their automobiles even as gas prices began to ease. [...] Subways, buses, commuter rail and light-rail systems saw a 6.5 percent jump in ridership from July to September, according to the Washington-based American Public Transportation Association.” The American Public Transportation Association provides this information: “Light rail (modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) had the highest percentage of ridership increase among all modes, with an 8.5 percent increase for the third quarter. Light rail systems showed double digit increases in the following areas: Baltimore (19.6%); Minneapolis (18.3%); Sacramento (16.5%); New Jersey (15.9%); Los Angeles (15.3%); Dallas (15.2%); Denver (15%); Buffalo (13.4%); and Memphis (13.3%).”
That’s a pretty good trick, since there is no light rail from Connecticut to NYC. In fact, I believe the only light rail in the whole area is the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, over in Jersey.
Perhaps you were thinking of MTA New York City Transit? Mind you, their combined subway and bus operations have a farebox recovery ratio of 67% (best in the country!), and has lower operating costs for rail compared to bus on both a per-vehicle-mile and per-passenger basis.
What was your argument again?
from the comments on “Imagine, if You Will, a Transit System…“:
Not to interrupt Chris’ transit dream but…
I traveled once last summer on the shuttle from New Haven to Hartford’s Union Station. It was a very humid day with lots of thundershowers. The $11 trip would have been worth it but for no air conditioning and a stifling passenger car. When the train lurched, rain water fell on my belongings.
There’s a lot of work and investment to be made to begin to link people to cities and where they need to go without an automobile.. If you build it passengers will come and the economy will be the better for it.
Someone’s snobbery is showing! The sun/moon roofs in cars never leak? Cars never have faulty air conditioning? Nobody was on board to provide you with martinis and a pedicure? I am astounded!
Okay, people should expect to be dry and somewhat comfortable while traveling. But let’s prioritize our complaints. Was the ride safe? Was it on time? Were you able to get to your destination without having to jam on the brakes or give/receive the finger?